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‘The Tank’ is back: Bess Eaton returns to Wakefield

April 1, 2011

Photo By Kathleen McKiernan

Bess Eaton has opened its doors in Wakefield. Pictured above, left to right, are employees Becky Arnold, Karen Johnson, and Diane Engstrume.

WAKEFIELD – A town tradition is now back serving up coffee, donuts and bagels with the opening of Bess Eaton last Friday at the corner of Main Street and Kingstown Road.

After Tim Hortons closed this past November, manager Mary Haverly saw it as an opportunity to bring the local Bess Eaton back to Wakefield.
“We knew it was missed. We loved it and we knew it would be successful,” Haverly said. “It was successful in the past and even as I owned Tim Hortons for six years, people kept asking for Bess Eaton coffee.”

After entering the Rhode Island coffee market in 2004 and buying up the Bess Eaton Coffee Shops, the Canadian doughnut store chain Tim Hortons closed its Rhode Island and Connecticut stores on Nov. 10, 2010. In both states, a total of 34 stores were closed due to low sales as compared to stores in other New England areas.

When Tim Horton’s closed in November, employees of the three stores Haverly managed, a crew of 45 people became unemployed.

“The closing was bittersweet. It was very tough because I loved the brand and it was a very good company. When it closed, I lost my business, customers, and co-workers I considered as friends,” Haverly said.

Haverly said for months after the closing of Tim Hortons, she and her co-workers continued to get together and even had a Christmas party.
“We were like lost refugees,” Haverly said.

When Bess Eaton opened Friday, cars lined the drive-thru and people waited in line out the door, hoping for a taste of the coffee they missed.

“It went beyond my expectations. We were received with open arms from the community. People came from Waterford, Conn. and one group came from New Hampshire,” Haverly said. “The lines were unbelievable. I’ve never had so many people inside waiting. All of the customers were wonderful. Everyone said its worth the wait.”
Haverly said the new Bess Eaton will still sell coffee, breakfast sandwiches, muffins, donuts and bagels. Within two months, she also expects to sell Coldstone Icecream and lunch sandwiches. In the summer, Haverly said the coffee shop will likely open 24 hours.

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